Marian Gaborik has been the face of the Minnesota Wild since the team's beginning back in 2000. The third overall pick in the 2000 entry draft has been the leader of his team, with 206 career goals and 414 career points in seven NHL seasons.
However, Minnesota fans were quite disappointed in their young superstar, who turned into a ghost in the playoffs, recording only one point in six games against the Avalanche. This, after setting a team-record scoring 42 goals—the seventh-best in the league—and recording 83 points (12th-best).
It's par for Gaborik's up-and-down career. He's had injury problems in three of his seven seasons—one of which (the 2006-2007 season) only saw him skate in 48 games.
However, in those same 48 games he managed to add 30 goals and 27 assists for 57 points. Pretty impressive, especially considering the career-best numbers he put up the following season were over the span of 77 games.
If Gaborik can stay healthy again next year, he will likely put up some similar numbers to this past season's. His health could also be a prime factor in what the Wild front office want to do with his contract.
Gaborik becomes an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of next season—but could we see Gaborik on the move before the trade deadline?
Trading Gaborik could open up some room in the salary cap for the Wild, but would leave a team already struggling offensively almost no offense at all, after the loss of Rolston and Demitra to free agency.
However, with the re-acquisition of Andrew Brunette, who has played with Gaborik before, could be the key to replacing Demitra. Minnesota also re-signed young forward Pierre Marc-Bouchard to a five-year, $20.4 million dollar contract and he lead the team in assists with 50.
Re-signing Gaborik at the end of next year could be difficult as well if he has another productive regular season. With his speed, you can bet that many NHL teams who have money to spend will be looking at pursuing the Trencin, Slovakia native.
When it comes down to thinking about Marian's future, you can bet how well he performs and how well the Wild do next season will be the main factors in determining how the Wild approach his free agency.
The Wild have many new faces, as well as some up-and-coming young players in Bouchard, Burns, and James Sheppard. Team chemistry will be the main obstacle the Wild will have to overcome—and quickly, if they want to repeat their Northwest Division title from last year.
It is in the team's best interest to re-sign this young two-time All-Star, but we will just have to wait and see where he ends up next July.